Dutch to invest 1.1 bln euros in railway improvements

AMSTERDAM, June 17 Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:38am EDT

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AMSTERDAM, June 17 (Reuters) - The Netherlands will invest 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in railway improvements through 2023, including a major overhaul of Amsterdam's central station and better links to the city's Schiphol airport, the government said on Tuesday.

The national and regional governments will jointly fund several projects in the rail-dependent country using money previously set aside for infrastructure projects.

Detailed plans will be submitted to parliament for approval, but will not require extra budget negotiations by the coalition government, which has been implementing deep austerity cuts to meet European Union debt targets.

A large share of the new investment, 431 million euros ($587 million), will be spent in the capital, Amsterdam, where boarding platforms will be widened and additional tracks laid to ease congested passenger trains.

"The plan is to complete work in Amsterdam by 2023," said Laura Kwakernaak, a spokeswoman at the Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment. "One of the main objectives is to boost the number of trains that ride from Schiphol through Amsterdam and on to other cities."

A larger sum of 703 million euros will be spent in the southern province of Brabant to increase the capacity and frequency of passenger trains and reroute noisy cargo traffic, the ministry said.

Large-scale infrastructure projects are badly needed to help revive the sluggish Dutch economy and especially construction, the sector worst hit by the financial crisis. ($1 = 0.7345 Euros) (Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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